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2023-04 The Tatsfield Gardener in April – Jon Allbutt


There seems to be a pattern emerging for our local weather, the winter is starting later and the long term forecast for April suggests that the cold weather may come and go with brief periods of cold frosty weather in the first half of the month. Perhaps I am wrong and this year we see a warm start to the growing season; take care to protect your vulnerable plants growing outdoors and be ready to cover them with a light cloth or some saved bubble wrap

Our heavy clay soil is very wet now so be patient, there is no advantage to be gained by putting plants and seed in cold wet soil, you will be surprised how quickly they catch up when the weather improves

My new greenhouse was delivered at the end of March; after much debate I have chosen a wooden frame with the side glazing only down to bench height. It is oriented North/South to give equal amounts of light on the East and West sides, this is particularly important for light in the winter months. I have chosen an electric fan blown heater so that it can be used to circulate air without any heating, important in hot weather and to also reduce humidity.

On the benches I am fitting shallow trays with capillary matting , this will allow the plants to take up water as they need it, but each plant will need checking regularly because there will always be a dry spot due to very small unevenesses to the levels of the benches. I am fitting a water tank to harvest and store rainwater; mains water – especially our local hard water – is treated with various chemicals to keep it safe for us to drink, this not always suitable for growing plants, rainwater is much more suitable for plants. We also need to be aware of the risk of restrictions on our use of water again this year. Our local reservoirs are near to capacity but some of our groundwater aquifers are still not full and this is very significant for our local area

When your primroses and cowslips have finished flowering please do not remove the flower heads (they will be full of seed pods) until they have turned brown, split open, and release ripe seeds to start a new generation of plants. You can spread these plants around your garden by harvesting the seed heads as they turn brown, put them in a paper bag, place in a dry sunny spot to let the seed heads release the new seeds. These can then be sown immediately in another part of the garden, or why not put them in small paper packets and give them to friends and neighbours? In our local area these valuable plants used to be a common site in our hedgerows and the margins of woodland, sadly they are much reduced in numbers now. The Tatsfield in Bloom team have been sowing our own saved wildflower seed along the hedge in Approach Road opposite the entrance to the allotments, see how many you can identify!


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